Thursday, 28 March 2019

Portico restored

One of the parts of the church that was in really bad repair was the portico ceiling. but now, repainted and repaired, this looks resplendent. You just need to look up as you enter the building to get the full beauty of the restored decoration.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Monday, 25 March 2019

Southwark Park visit St James

The two year one classes from Southwark Park Primary School came on a visit to St James's today.

They started off in the churchyard, looking up at the dragon, and listening to the clock strike ten.

Then we went up in the gallery to see the whole of the church laid out before us.

They had a look at the organ, the big picture of Jesus ascending, and the cross on the east wall (that was there, several of the children told me, because Jesus died on the cross). Another child pointed out the men on the ground of the Ascension picture and told us they were disciples.

Back downstairs we gathered around the font to find out about baptism, and I showed the children what happens when someone is baptised with the help of a couple of volunteers.

They were full of enthusiasm, bursting with questions, and very well-behaved.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Growing wider

Our two church councils met for a morning yesterday to trhink together about 'GROWING WIDER' - taking the message of the Gospel out to the people of our united benefice here in Bermondsey.

After breakfast together and a bible study on Acts 14. 21-28 we considered the scale of the challenge - taking the Gospel to the 18,000 residents of our two parishes - before considering two new projects - Fresh Expressions of church - to reach out beyond our precent buildings and activties. More about these in due course.

We also considered Jesus's words in Luke 10.2 where he says 'The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.'

That seemed just right for us. We have a huge harvest field. The labourers are few and so we need to pray for more - and that's why we ended this fruitful and encouraging morning on a note of heartfelt prayer.

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Pirates in Greenwich

The Merry Opera Company have recently been hiring St Anne's Hall as a rehearsal place.

Last night we went to see their wonderful performance of  Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance staged in the splendid setting of the Cutty Sark.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Sowing in concrete

Sowing in Concrete was a morning hosted by St Anne's for our diocese focussing on ministry to local authority estates, of which we have many here in Bermondsey.

Our very own, Paul Warren, and Nicholas Lebey (from Thamesmead) both Church Army evangelists, shared stories from their ministry - in Paul's case about prayer visiting door to door on local estates, in Nick's case about the youth congregation that has wonderfully come into being at Thamesmead.

Will Cookson, Dean of Fresh Expressions from our own diocese, and Andy Delmege of the national estates network also spoke.

Andy spoke of the renewed level of interest in estates ministry right across the Church, with a lead being given by the archbishops and General Synod. He also told us about the Jesus Shaped People discipleship programme, which has been designed especially for estates ministry and is being used to great effect in many estate churches.

The day began with Ruth and Mandy leading us in singing 'How Great Thou Art' with the urban verse ('When through the streets and urban parks I wander, And hear the cars and lorries thunder by. When I look down from lofty tower block grandeur, and hear the people's many language cries') and this very encouraging and positive morning ended with a lunch provided by our friends at Bermondsey Community Kitchen, but not before we had watched their excellent promotional video for the interest of our guests, who warmly applauded this great community venture before tucking into their lunch:

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

More from Sunday

A further photo from Sunday's Thanksgiving Service showing (above) the Dedication of the Scriptural panels. Thanks to architect Russell Hanslip for this photo, and the two following:

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Restoration blessings

Councillor Catherine Rose, the Mayor of Southwark, was with us today at St James, along with Archdeacon of Southwark,  Jane Steen and our very own Bishop-in-Bermondsey, Graham Kings for our Service of Thanksgiving for the Restoration of St James's Church building.

It was the culmination of a £600,000 project which has involved the church roof being renewed, the stonework on the belltower, the clock, the dragon weathervane, and the scriptural panels being restored.

Archdeacon Jane Steen preaching
The Church is the people, not the building. The Church building is the house of the people of God. It is where they meet to pray, to worship and to hear the word of God. We are fortunate in Bermondsey to have this beautiful house for the people of God, and we are thankful that we have been able to restore it and secure it future generations.

Having heard Jane's sermon on the Parable of the Sower with its focus on the 'seed of the word' and its reference to the texts of the Scriptural Panels, we all moved out of the church after the last hymn ('To God be the glory, great things he hath done') into the churchyard, first for the whole congregation to proclaim the message of the panels as they called out in unison: 'Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life' and 'Jesus said come to me and I will give you rest.' Then the Archdeacon prayed this  prayer of dedication:

Almighty God, whose word is a  lamp to our feet and  a light to our paths, grant by the power of your Holy Spirit, that these scriptural panels may forever proclaim to the people of Bermondsey that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that he offers rest to all who come to him by faith, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dedicating the Scriptural panels
In her sermon she had made the point that the two Scriptural Panels spoke directly to our world. To those who were looking for direction and guidance in their lives, the first panel proclaimed: 'Jesus said 'I am the way, the truth and the life.' To those who were harrassed and overburdened, the second panel proclaimed 'Jesus said 'Come to me and I will give you rest.'

She also suggested members of the congregation might commit the two texts to memory and keep them as memory texts, each morning at the beginning of the day saying 'Jesus said 'I am the way the truth and the life' and at the end of the day saying 'Jesus said 'Come to me and I will give you rest.'

Graham gets ready to give the blessing
At the end of the service with the sun now shining and with the congregation gathered in the churchyard, Bishop Graham pronounced the blessing, the bells start to ring, and so concluded a truly memorable service.

A big thank you to all who have worked so hard to bring this restoration project to completion, a big thank you to our funders, and to God be the glory! 

May the message of God's love be proclaimed loud and clear from this building for many years to come.

Finally, here is to day's Powerpoint presentation of the Restoration Project:

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Restoring St James

For tomorrow's service of thanksgiving for the restoration of St James: the Powerpoint presentation of this £600,000 restoration of the roof, bell tower, clock, dragon weathervane, and scriptural panels:

Friday, 15 March 2019

Growing the church in London

Across the Millennium Bridge to St Paul's Cathedral for a fascinating study day on 'The Desecularisation of the City' based on a study of the churches in London from 1980 until the present day.

In the 1960s the death of the church in London was confidently being predicted. Secularisation seemed an unstoppable tide, but in the last 30 years something quite unexpected has happened in London: the church has grown.

In 1979 there were 3350 churches in London.

By 2012 there were 4791 - and even this is believed to be an underestimate.

The electoral roll of the Diocese of London declined throughout the 1970s and 1980, but since a low point in 1990 it has grown by 70 per cent.

Sunday church attendance (all churches) since 1989 has grown steadilly in the inner London boroughs, although it has fallen in the outer London boroughs. For example, attendance in Hackney has grown from 9.700 in 1989 to 16,100 in 2012. In Newham the figures are 9,400 and 16,100, while in outer London's Bexley they are 16,200 and 11,100, respectively.

This collection of essays (right), edited by David Goodhew, was the basis of today's conference. I am now looking forward to digesting its contents.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Adrian's Big Half

Congratulations to Adrian Greenwood (left) on successfully completing the Big Half (London's community half-marathon) in 2 hours 28 mins and 27 secs.

Adrian was running in aid of the Salmon Youth Centre, alongside four other Salmon supporting runners.

Well done to Adrian, long time supporter of Salmon, and Chair of their Trustees, alongside all his other work that he does to advance God's kingdom here in Bermondsey, in the Diocese, and in the national church.

Four of the Salmon runners

Saturday, 9 March 2019

Diocesan Synod meets in Kennington

To St Mark's, Kennington (left) for a meeting of the Diocesan Synod, which links together parishes throughout Southwark Diocese (which covers most of south London and east Surrey).

As part of the report back from General Synod I got to say a bit about the debate on estates evangelism - especially the need for generous funding, new pathways into the ordained ministry for people from non-traditional backgrounds, and the goal to have a living Christian community on every estate in the nation.

Having singularly failed to get to speak at the General Synod, I got another chance to make a contribution at the diocesan synod, this time on a motion on knife crime, from my old deanery of Reigate.

Recalling my days as a teacher in an inner city comprehensive school in our diocese, I wanted to warmly welcome the Reigate motion, but to offer a caution about linking school exclusions with knife crime, as if the former was the inevitable cause of the latter.

It might be, of course, but it might just be that the kind of youngsters most likely to commit knife crime are the kind most likely to get excluded from school, without the exclusion itself being the cause of their crime.

Simply to seek to reduce the number of exclusions could just put hard-pressed schools under even more pressure than they are now under, and actually worsen the situation overall. Sometimes exclusions are needed.

It was really good in the same debate to hear of the work of our own Diocesan Board of education as it seeks to support church schools up and down the diocese.

The really good outcome was that the Reigate motion, slightly amended, was unanimously passed by Synod, as part of a thoughtful debate in which synod its expressed its compassionate concern for a pressing social issue.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

Ash Wednesday

Here is the scene just before the service at today's Ash Wednesday Service for St Anne's, St James, and St Mary's, at St Mary Magadelen, Bermondsey Street.

This service for the beginning of Lent was led by St Mary's rector, Charlie Moore, and included hymns, readings, the imposition of ashes, and Holy Communion.

In the Bible ashes are a sign of mourning or repentance.

Ashes in the shape of a cross are traditionally applied to the worshippers' foreheads on Ash Wednesday as a sign of mourning for sin and repentance.

As the ashes are applied these words are said by the minister: 'Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from your sin and be faithful to Christ.'

Those words recall the words in the funeral service 'ashes to ashes, dust to dust' and as such they remind us of our mortality, as they call us to use Lent as a time for repentance and spiritual renewal.

St Mary Magdalen, Bermondsey Street

Sunday, 3 March 2019

St Anselms in Bermondsey

When he is not ministering at St James and St Anne, our honorary curate, Simon Lewis is working as Dean of the Community of St Anselm at Lambeth Palace. Today Simon brought the residential members of the community to share in our morning worship here at St James.

They led the prayers, did the readings, and two community members, one from the Bahamas and one from the US, shared their testimonies of how they came to be part of the community and what they have learnt from their 'ten months time for God' as part of this unique community based at the London home of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

At the beginning of the service they all introduced themselves and told us where they came from: the US, Canada, Uganda (big cheers from the Ugandans in the congregation), Zambia, England and many other places besides.

It was great to have them with us, and to get an insight to what Simon is doing when he is not with us - and for the Community to meet the congregation of which Simon is a part on Sundays.

St Anselmers with Simon before the service

Ring out those bells


It was good to have the bell ringers back today at St James, after a few months gap for the bell tower to properly stabilise after the recent restoration. Thank you, bell ringers, you made a great sound.